Guest Post by Shakirah Dawud

The word vibe, first recorded in 1967, is short for vibration, according to the terse Merriam-Webster entry. But that’s not what it means, of course.

The World English Dictionary describes it as “feeling or flavour of the kind specified.” It is an Americanism of which I am proud because it provides English speakers with a word we really, really needed.

It’s not enough to pick one of the “personalities” under which social media users have been classified and run with that, because a) no one’s purely one or the other, and b) you can’t differentiate yourself by working a label.

But your vibe lives independently of those categories. Here’s my theory about that.

Although some of us draw quite the crowd, it’s not because we’re “em-cees,” “creators,” or “socializers.” Individuals are drawn specifically to us rather than the next nearest “em-cee” or whatever because of the vibe we project.

It’s impossible to categorize because it reflects who we are in real life, and that’s too unique to quite fit in.

Vibes vary a little with moods, but not enough that people can’t tell after a while whose name is at the top of a blog post or on a tweet without looking. That extrasensory tingle is what each individual seeks out or veers away from. And the goal in the process of creating an online presence is to try and attune ourselves to that subtle feeling we find others get from us, and amplify it.


Pay attention to who reacts to you. Those people probably see themselves as being either very similar or very opposed to the way you express yourself. Weed out the negative and false reactions and you’ve got a glittering, mirror-like mosaic of personas, each coloring in some aspect of you.

What adjectives would you use to describe them? What do they themselves point out about you, individually, that excites or invites them to respond?

Then look close at the rest””you know, the people who, when you talk about them, your accent shows up? They’ll turn into a magnified mirror thrust right in your face, but learn what you can from the hints they drop about what they feel you’re projecting. Turn those hints until they catch the light, then duly note or discard them (keep the accent, though).

Now to amplify it.

Watch your word choice. Use some combination of them, not out of a book of phrases, Hallmark card, or pop-culture sound bite. Make them thoroughly yours among the people on your wavelength. Tell people as much about you as you’re comfortable with, then give it a twist that makes people feel special you told them that much.

But don’t stop””keep sharing, and not box mixes, but home-made, solidly backed opinions.

Make personal contact with connections you admire””not just the ones who admire you. Now ask them to share themselves with you, and be patient.

Feel the supercharged crackle in the atmosphere? A box of yes-men won’t do that for you. A string of random””or even highly focused””tweets in the local colloquial won’t do it, either. Reciprocal sharing as much gold as you can from yourself and from others, though – that is what turned your vibe into the distilled prototype of your personal brand.

And that’s my theory.

Let me have it, what do you think? Add, subtract, multiply, divide it. It’s still in testing. Case studies (read: shout-outs) would be fun, too.

Image: amonja via Flickr, CC 2.0

Shakirah Dawud is the writer and editor behind Deliberate Ink. Based in Maryland with roots in New York, she’s been crafting effective marketing copy as a writer and polishing many forms of prose as an editor since 2002. Clients in many fun sizes, industries, and locations reach her through the Web.